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Anti-Thatcher, Anti-Cuts Protest Fills London's Trafalgar Square

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Close to 2,000 people gathered in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday in a mass celebration of the recent death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, sipping champagne and chanting "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead."

Crowds remained in Trafalgar square well into the evening on Saturday night, with reports that police are planning to attempt to clear the lively crowds.

The guardian is live blogging the event here.

Agence-France Presse reports:

Former coal miners involved in the year-long strike against the Iron Lady's government in the 1980s joined far-left activists and students to drink to the Iron Lady's demise.

An effigy of the former Conservative leader was carried through the crowd beneath Nelson's Column, complete with her trademark string of pearls and bouffant hair made from orange plastic bags.

There was a strong police presence for the demonstration, after trouble erupted at several impromptu street celebrations following Thatcher's death from a stroke on Monday at the age of 87.

But the atmosphere was more street carnival than riot, with people of all ages -- many of them barely born when she left office in 1990 -- dancing, playing tambourines, blowing whistles and horns. [...]

Associated Press reports:

As a handbag-toting Thatcher effigy made its way down the stairs in front of the National Gallery, the crowd erupted into cries of "Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Dead! Dead! Dead!" and sang lyrics from the "Wizard of Oz" ditty "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead."

Hundreds of people clutched their umbrellas in the rain between Nelson's Column and the National Gallery on the square. The mood appeared festive and the celebration was peaceful, although there was a minor scuffle with police at one point. Official crowd estimates weren't immediately available.

However, the crowd wasn't entirely joyous, as miners, socialists, Travellers, students and anti-capitalist protesters were also there to demonstrate against Margaret Thatcher's legacy and the all to familiar austerity policies of the nation's current coalition government, the Guardian reports.

The anti-austerity group UK Uncut carried out a number of coinciding protests throughout the day.

At one point around 200 people gathered outside the home of Baron David Freud, minister for welfare reform, to protest against the recently proposed "bedroom tax" and "benefits cap."

People played drums, sat in the street on beds and duvets and held up signs reading: "Who wants to evict a millionaire?"

Police are still expecting large crowds of protesters at Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday, when her coffin will be taken to St Paul's Cathedral through streets lined with members of the armed forces.

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